And that, not complexity or a lack of complexity, is the core claim of ID -- that one can distinguish the natural from the artificial or intelligently made. If SETI claims that such a distinction can be made scientifically, then the idea that one could distinguish the natural from the artificial in biology is not unreasonable. Despite what this article claims, both SETI and ID are doing the same thing.
SETI assumes, without any existing evidence, that extraterrestrial intillgence may exist. In order to find evidence of such ET intelligence, they look for evidence of signals which have characteristics that would distinguish the artificial from the natural. ID assumes, without any existing evidence, that a creator of some sort may exist. In order to find evidence of such a creator, they look for evidence of pheonemna or features of life or the universe that would distinguish the created phoneomna from the natural. Both start with no evidence and propose finding the evidence by looking for created features among natural features. So without the whole complexity red herring, the difference is? Either you can differentiate the natural from the intelligently created or you can't. Either both are science or neither is.
SETI has made a number of advance predictions about the sort of as-yet-undetected signal that would reflect intelligent creation rather than natural origin (e.g. the distinction between a broad-spectrum and a narrow-band signal described in the above article). ID has made a number of after-the-fact assertions about already-known natural phenomena (e.g. the claim that the probability of existing macromolecules forming is unreasonably low, even over an entire planet and billions of years).
The difference is equivalent to that between painting a target on a wall and shooting a bullet through the bulls-eye and shooting a bullet through a wall and painting a bulls-eye around the hole.
Both start with no evidence and propose finding the evidence by looking for created features among natural features. So without the whole complexity red herring, the difference is? Either you can differentiate the natural from the intelligently created or you can't. Either both are science or neither is.
Not really.SETI looks for signals that can be differentiated from known natural sources that have features of an efficient, regular or simple artificial source. These are compared to known characteristics of artificial sources, their ability to be reproduced from technology
ID points to complexity alone as evidence for a claim of an "artifical" source of design plan. It ignores the evidence of chemical and physical laws producing a multitude of complex systems.
SETI observes signals, experiments to understand if the signal could come from a known artificial source, predicts possible signal characteristics and mechanisms to produce such a signal. The requirements are specific:
Any signal less than about 300 Hz wide must be, as far as we know, artificially produced. Such narrow-band signals are what all SETI experiments look for. Other tell-tale characteristics include a signal that is completely polarized or the existence of coded information on the signal.
Narrow-band signals, say those that are only a few Hertz or less wide, are the mark of a purposely built transmitter. Natural cosmic noisemakers, such as pulsars, quasars, and the turbulent, thin interstellar gas of our own Milky Way, do not make radio signals that are this narrow. The static from these objects is spread all across the dial. SETI faq
ID simply says it is complex thus it is artifical. Why? It's artificial because it is complex. That's not science - that's fallacious logic.
It's possible, but you need a measure that will separate the natural from the designed. The SETI researchers have identified one reasonable measure: the narrowness of the band of an electromagnetic emission. This is predicated on the observation that the signals we use to communicate are far narrower, in frequency space, than any natural emission we know about.
(I guarantee you one thing, though: if and when a narrow electromagnetic emission of extraterrestrial origin is found, scientists will fall all over themselves proposing natural mechanisms for it. These will likely be testable, however.)
The ID proponents have proposed a different measure, relevant to their assertions: complexity. Natural things, they assert, are simple; designed things are complex. It is certainly a testable approach; the problem is that the measure fails miserably on the most cursory inspection. Bricks are obviously designed, but it is the simplicity of the brick that tells you that. Cars are more complex, but they really are simple compared to, say, a cloud, or a coastline. In fact, it's easy to come up with any number of manifestly natural things that are gigantically, stupefyingly, obscenely more complicated than the most sophisticated artifact.
(ID proponents at this point typically howl that the appropriate measure is not complexity, but "specified complexity". But the key to specified complexity is, ironically, that it is never rigorously specified, so it cannot be used as a measure.)
That would be news to Behe, Dembski and the rest of the Discovery Institute fellows.